One of the most legendary plays in ACC history was also the last play of South Carolina’s time in the conference: 6-3 Gamecock Kevin Joyce out jumped UNC’s 6-10 Lee Dedmon on a very late jump ball (they still had them in those days), tipping the ball to Tom Owens, who scored the final basket as time ran out.
If you’re going to leave a conference on bad terms, that’s the way to do it.
And South Carolina left on very bad terms. If you remember the tension between Duke and Maryland before the Terps left the ACC for the Big Ten, that was nothing compared to the ugliness between South Carolina and the ACC and more specifically, the Big Four. There was more than just rivalry sentiments. There was genuine hatred and it lasted for decades The tension between Duke and South Carolina alone was off the charts. Add in McGuire’s antipathy for UNC, a school that fired him, and Norm Sloan’s combative personality must have rubbed him the wrong way too.
Sloan rubbed just about everyone the wrong way.
So when this happened, which was basically a basketball miracle, how happy McGuire must have been.
It would all turn to dust soon. McGuire had embraced the idea of being an independent at the same time it was becoming a liability. South Carolina did make the NCAAs the next two years as an independent. In the second year the Gamecocks lost in the first round and had to watch Sloan’s NC State team win the national championship in Greensboro. And in the final six years of his career, McGuire made the NIT twice.
The Gamecocks gave up being an independent in 1983-84, joining the Metro, which was a big step down from the ACC but didn't make the tournament again until 1988-89.